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Ephrata raises construction fees to fund parks

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EPHRATA — It will cost a little more to build a house in Ephrata.

In a regular meeting on Wednesday, the Ephrata City Council voted 5-1 to raise the city’s park fee to $1,800 per residential lot — and will be paid by a developer when a final subdivision flat is submitted for approval by the city – unless the developer secures side land dedicated to a park in the subdivision.

The new fee is intended to help Ephrata create and maintain new city parks, which almost every council member agreed the city needs.

However, councilman Matt Moore – the only one to vote against the fee increase – said he was concerned the city was raising fees for the wrong people and levying them at the wrong time in the development process. , which would make Ephrata a less attractive place. to construct.

“I think there’s a pretty strong consensus on the board that we’re trying to improve our funding apparatus for parks,” Moore said. “I’m afraid that’s actually quite a substantial change from standard practice for how these developments play out.”

Moore said he thinks it would make more sense to charge fees when building permits are approved, rather than when developers submit final plans for housing estates.

“I don’t want to get to where we disrupt future residential development,” Moore said. “That’s something they won’t encounter, at least in our immediate competing communities.”

However, Ephrata Community Development Manager Dan Leavitt told council members that the fee schedule – upon final approval of the dish – has not changed and is not significantly different from neighboring communities. .

“It is necessary right now that it be collected before recording on the final set,” he said.

City attorney Anna Franz also said comparisons with neighboring communities are difficult, given that each town in Grant County faces very different circumstances, and developers rather than builders are often more informed about what needs to be done to make a development profitable.

“The more you defer to the owner of the individual lot, the more likely they are not to know about this until they come and try to file their planning permission, and now they have to pay all these costs. And you will get a lot of complaints about it,” she said.

Franz also said developers often have access to financing, while individual builders don’t.

Council’s approval of the new fees means the city is now accepting new subdivision applications. Late last year, the city council approved a moratorium on new housing estate applications as it considered raising park fees.